Childbirth education classes have the potential to inform you of your options, ease your anxieties, and instill the belief that your body can indeed give birth. Cara Terreri from Lamaze’s Giving Birth With Confidence blog joins us this week to share her top five tips for choosing the best childbirth eduction class for you!
Lamaze, Bradley, Hypnobabies, Birthing from Within — the choices in childbirth education today are plentiful, and can be overwhelming during a time when you’re already experiencing baby-information-overload. Unlike consulting with Dr. Google, however, the right childbirth education class can help you sort through the multitude of information, alleviate your fears, and make informed choices about your labor and birth. When choosing a childbirth class, consider the following tips:
Start early. You’ll want to take a childbirth class in advance of your birth, but not so far that you forget what you learned! Many women find it helpful to take a class that finishes three or four weeks before their due date. Depending on where you live and the availability of classes, research and book the class early in your pregnancy to ensure you get the class you want — and when you want it.
Brainstorm. Before you do any research on the type of childbirth education class to take, jot down a few notes about your feelings and attitudes toward birth. What does your ideal birth look like? What concerns you most about birth? What do you think might help you most during labor?
Do your research! Visit the Web sites of the childbirth education organizations you’ve heard about. Learn how they approach childbirth education and what their classes entail. Consider how their philosophy aligns with yours or conversely, how they might improve upon your beliefs. A quality childbirth class should cover the following:
- The normal process of labor and birth, and health care practices that support it
- Changes during late pregnancy and the stages of labor
- A wide variety of coping strategies for managing pain in labor
- The importance of labor support
- Movement and positioning during labor and birth
- Medical interventions and their indications, risks and alternatives
- How to communicate with your health care provider
- Developing a birth plan
- Breastfeeding and newborn care
Check for certification. Many people teach childbirth classes; not all are certified to do so. A certified childbirth educator has likely demonstrated knowledge in their respective childbirth education organization by passing an exam and taking continuing education courses. Ask your instructor if she is certified.
Beware of the standard hospital birth class. Most large hospitals offer childbirth classes. Some of these classes are taught by Lamaze-certified educators or other similar certifying childbirth education organizations; some are not. In either case, be wary of the childbirth educator that teaches only hospital birth policies and protocol. A good instructor is an advocate who shares all of the information you need to make truly informed decisions.
For more tips, Lamaze has developed tip sheets that include questions to ask a childbirth educator and how to choose a childbirth education class based on size and duration.
Cara Terreri is the site administrator for Giving Birth with Confidence, the Lamaze online community for expectant moms, and has worked with Lamaze for the last six years. Giving Birth with Confidence is written for and by real women (and men) and offers a meeting ground to share stories, find answers and provide support during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. In her free time (every last bit), she is mom to two active little boys. Through blogging and advocacy, Cara enjoys helping women discover their power and ability in birth.
How did taking a childbirth education class enhance or improve your birth experience?